Today’s walk in the park with my wife turned out to be very interesting and meaningful. It started with her asking me the question “What keeps you calm and happy at all time?” This was not the first time we were having conversations around the topic of ‘happiness’. It is one of my favorites. After interacting with over 500,000 people over 25 years of my consulting practice, I have come to the conclusion that the following five points will certainly be a good starting point in your quest for happiness.
- Stop judging ‘What is right and wrong?’
One man’s right is another man’s wrong. When you get caught up in judging the rights and wrongs of others action, you start to observe a sense of calm coming over your mind. Most often I see people expend their precious energy in trying to prove oneself right and others wrong. It happens in family, workplace and in the environment we live in. You might have observed that the moment you get into such a discussion where the attempt is to win the argument in your favor, conflict arises and leads to destructive mindsets. You start to throw judgments, insinuations, insults at each other and a toxic climate engulfs your relationship and more importantly your mind. Make it your daily affirmation “that there are no rights and wrongs in this world; and I am not charged with the responsibility to prove otherwise”. In fact I’ve seen that when I make it as a ground rule in some of my workshops, participants become more intent on learning than expending their energy in proving me or each other wrong during deliberations.
- That there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’
It is an extension of point one. The moment you start to qualify things as good or bad, you get caught up in your own mental tangles. What was good today could turn bad tomorrow and vice versa. There is no good or bad; there are only experiences to learn from . If things have gone bad today – learn the lessons it provides you and if they have gone good still learn the lessons and celebrate the moment. Again this has to be an inward looking exercise and not one to judge others.
- Stay away from ‘expectations’ and ‘comparisons’
I think the biggest contributors to unhappiness in you is getting caught up in the whirlpool of expectations and comparisons; especially of and with others. When you have expectations of others and they fail to meet those, it leads to unhappiness, bad feelings about the person and also a constant conflict affecting relationship. Be focused on what you ‘expect’ to do than what you ‘expect of others’ and that will release you from the cycle of unhappiness. You know already that what is under your control is your action and not of others. You will find that such mismatched expectations are at the root of all conflicts whether in family, workplace or even in society. Expectations also force us to become attached to the outcome more than the process. You stop enjoying the process or the journey. The other contributor to unhappiness in people is the constant ‘comparison’ with others. You must understand the fact that you will always be having someone around you who has probably got more in life than you. When you compare your life with those of others you will have a tendency to feel inadequate and depressed. This problem has accentuated in our life with the proliferation of social media. I’ve seen people getting depressed over trivial issues like someone getting more ‘likes’ to their posts than theirs, having more friends in the network, going places where you have not gone, wearing designer clothes which you only dream of, happy family pictures which you don’t have yourselves to post, higher position, more money and the list is endless. If you start to compare you end up caught in the quicksand and there is no way out of this state. It is therefore best not to compare your life with others.
Now you might ask, how then do I improve? I say ‘compare you must, but with your yesterday’ and look at how far you have progressed. That’s an inward looking process which can help you enjoy your journey to the fullest.
- Learn to be an ‘observer’ of all things
You don’t have to get caught in the drama being enacted by others. Learn to be a silent observer of all happenings and see how it starts to change your mental state. Many of us seem to have an ‘itch’ to be trying to solve other peoples problems and get involved in others life a little more than necessary and sometimes even when others are not asking for it. You would have realized that when you start participating in the drama of others, you get drowned and before you realize you feel the stress yourselves. Visualize others as beautiful mermaids in the sea. If you choose to extend your hand then be prepared to be pulled down under as well. It is your choice. This happens specially in situations when others are sharing their problems with you. What they expect of you is to be just a listener and not be part of the drama. It may seem like they are crying for help and want you to get involved, but don’t unless asked for. By just being an observer and keen listener you actually help them to make their choices and move on. In fact I find people have stopped observing and are simply going through their daily routines in a purely mechanical fashion. They have stopped enjoying the beauty of the nature, songs of birds, the rhythmic symphony of the rains, the wonderful aroma of wet earth. People have eyes but are not ‘seeing’ anymore.
- Do what you are ‘naturally’ inclined to
I observe that most people are involved in activities or jobs in their life which may not be in alignment with their nature. Engineers who would have loved to be artists, Doctors who always dreamt of being musicians and so on. Right from school days you are somehow made to live a life which seems to be pre-defined for you. Your natural inclinations are suppressed or channelized towards more safer and secure (that’s what the others would like to make you believe) options. I have met so many of my workshop delegates who share that if they had a choice they would have loved to do something else than what they are currently doing. This is the primary cause of stress in people today. When you do as your nature, you are in the flow and you get a great sense of satisfaction doing it. A bird is better of flying than be in a cage. Do you feel stuck in the ‘cage’ called life? It’s time to be back to ‘nature’.
These 5 points were top of my list towards a more happy and contended life.
What are yours? Share in the comments below – it might just make someone happy…..